More than 14k persons displaced as Mayon spews lava

Cristina Chi - Philstar.com
More than 14k persons displaced as Mayon spews lava
The mandatory evacuation of residents from Barangay Maninila, for temporary relocation at Mauraro High School and Guinobatan Community College, Barangay Mauraro, Guinobatan, Albay, June 9, 2023.
Facebook / Albay Provincial Information Office

MANILA, Philippines — More than 14,000 residents in Albay have been forced to flee their homes following eruptions from the Mayon volcano, which began to spew lava from its crater Sunday night. 

Latest data from the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) on Monday showed that more than 13,700 residents of the Bicol region are taking shelter in 22 evacuation facilities. Nearly 600 are staying with their friends or relatives.

NDRRMC estimated that in total, around 14,300 residents or nearly 4,000 families have been affected by increased unrest from Mayon. 

State volcanologists on June 8 raised Alert Level 3 over Mayon, signifying “relatively high level of unrest as magma is at the crater” and a warning of the increased possibility of a hazardous eruption within weeks or even days.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said Mayon had an “effusive eruption” Sunday night, which involves the relatively slow release of magma onto the volcano's edifice. This is considered less violent than explosive eruptions, which send ash, gas and lava high up into the atmosphere.

Calls for permanent housing in lieu of evacuation centers 

According to the Facebook page of the Albay Provincial Information Office, city mayors in the province have called on the national government to create permanent housing sites for Mayon evacuees and those living in danger zones, saying that it is time to rethink the practice of using schools as evacuation centers.

In a meeting with Social Welfare and Development Office (DSWD) Secretary Rex Gatchalian, mayors of Ligao and Tabaco City pointed out that schools are typically not equipped with the facilities needed to accommodate all evacuees during calamities or disasters.

Vice President Sara Duterte, concurrently education secretary, released a DepEd order in 2022 limiting the use of public schools as evacuation centers for only 15 days at most or around two weeks. DepEd issued the directive to avoid disruptions to education during calamities.

Evacuation of livestock ongoing 

Authorities have also begun evacuating some 10,000 animals from 41 barangays inside the six-kilometer permanent danger zone around Mayon, according to the Albay Provincial Information Office.

Albay Provincial Veterinarian Dr. Pancho Mella said that they have mobilized their Mayon Eruption Animal Response Team to facilitate the evacuation of the animals to temporary shelters in areas at least seven or eight kilometers away from the volcano. 

“Some of the animals evacuated were small and large ruminants such as cows, carabaos and goats. Swine and dogs were not included because of the difficulty of maintenance and lack of proper facilities,” the statement from the information office read. 


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